Hpertension has reached epidemic proportions in South Asia. Last year, a survey by Cardiological Society of India (CSI) revealed that one in every three Indians suffers from hypertension, of whom 60 per cent are not even aware of their medical condition. The survey also revealed that 42 per cent of the Indian population suffer from uncontrolled high blood pressure despite medication.
Lifestyle plays a crucial role in keeping your blood pressure under check. By following a healthy regime, you can even avoid, delay, or even reduce your dependency on medication. Weight management, regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, reducing daily consumption of salt and limiting alcohol intake can help in maintaining blood pressure within the normal range. Also, hypertension is one more reason for you to stub your cigarette and quit the habit, as smoking is known to temporarily increase blood pressure for several minutes after you finish. In case of a heavy smoker, the blood pressure stays elevated for longer duration, thus increasing the risk of developing dangerously high levels of hypertension.
Focusing on diet, a conscious effort to include foods that lower blood pressure naturally, in your diet, could help in bringing down the daily dose of medication for hypertension. In case of healthy individuals, these foods can help you maintain sodium levels in the body. Here’s a list of five super foods that can help you keep hypertension at bay:
Many studies have proved that while high sodium levels in the body can increase the risk of high blood pressure, potassium, when consumed in right amounts, can balance out sodiumâ€™s negative effects by restoring the delicate sodium-potassium ratio. This ratio helps in body-fluid management by kidneys, by allowing it to get rid of excess water and sodium efficiently, thus reducing the blood pressure. Since high levels of potassium could also hamper the process, most experts advise to get it through natural foods, instead of turning to supplements.
Leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, celery, spinach, amaranth leaves, beet greens, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and arugula are some of the best natural sources of potassium. It is advisable to choose fresh greens over the frozen ones as preserved vegetables usually have added salt.
For centuries, garlic has been known for its healing properties. Besides many nutrients useful for a host of ailments, garlic contains an organosulfur compound, allicin, which gives garlic its characteristic odour as well as its ability to reduce blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels to ensure smooth and stable blood circulation in the body.
The highly unstable and reactive compound is found in aged garlic extract. While cooking garlic destroys its ability to produce allicin, it is naturally formed fresh garlic pods are crushed or chopped. So, the best way to have it is by consuming garlic raw.
Tender coconut water
Naturally refreshing and sweet, tender coconut water is the clear liquid extracted from unripe, green coconuts. As coconut matures, the water turns into white meat, which is pressed to produce milk or oil.
Natural tender coconut water contains five key electrolytes: potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus, making it one of the best energy drinks. A cup of coconut water has more than 600 mg of potassium, which is 12 per cent of what an adult body needs in a day. Besides, it is also a potassium-sparing diuretic, which removes the excess water from the body, while retaining vital potassium, which further improves the crucial sodium-potassium ratio, explained under ‘leafy greens.’
Carrots are rich source of potassium, antioxidants beta-carotene, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, which help in reducing damage to blood vessels and maintaining normal blood pressure by regulating heart and kidney functions. In addition, being high in potassium, carrots also help in countering sodium’s adverse impact on blood pressure.
Many studies have established the role of dietary nitrates in lowering blood pressure levels by improving vasodilation. During digestion, body breaks down nitrates in food to nitric oxide which helps with dilatation of blood vessels and has anti-platelet properties that prevent blood from thickening and clotting. These effects together help in lowering blood pressure.
Beets are excellent sources of dietary nitrates.